With general elections around the corner, Government has set aside $1.5 million more for the Electoral and Boundaries Commission (EBC) in this year’s Estimates than it did in financial year 2017-18.
Under the 2018-19 Estimates of Expenditure and Revenue, laid in Parliament on Tuesday, the EBC, which is the chief electoral agency, has been allocated $6.5 million this year, compared to the Revised Estimates of $5,034,397 for the current financial year.
Just two months ago Prime Minister Freundel Stuart sought approval for, and received an additional $591,067 on this year’s budget, to assist the EBC with preparations for the highly anticipated poll, constitutionally due by the middle of this year.
At that time Stuart said $197,644 would go towards the purchase of computer software and $90,660 towards the payment of temporary workers, including one senior executive officer, ten clerical officers and two clerk typists.
Provision is also made in the 2018/2019 Estimates, which come up for parliamentary debate next week, for the purchase of more electioneering machinery and equipment, and computer software in the amounts of $209,477 and $10, 005 respectively.
No allocation was made in those areas in the current financial year.
However, it was not immediately clear if the monies allocated in the 2018/2019 Estimates “for the purchase of a server and 30 laptops and the purchase of additional software for the EBC will be approved in time for the upcoming poll.
The new Estimates also include an allocation of $1.447 million for statutory personal emoluments for the EBC, compared to $1.43 million this year.
There is also the sum of $2.6 million set aside under the category of “other personal emoluments”, compared to the $1.9 million in the 2017-18 Estimates.
Overall the EBC’s operating expenses are also set to increase from $540,742 in the current year to $826,954 in the upcoming financial year.
And while no provision was made in the last Estimates for rental of property, the over 400-page 2018-19 document includes the sum of $92,191 for this purpose.
In terms of the forward Estimates, it is proposed that the total vote for the EBC, which is currently said to be moving towards a process of electronic voting, be increased to $8.5 million in the next financial year before dropping back down to the range of the current budget in 2020-21 to $5.8 million.